Games to watch: SEC showdown highlights solid weekend slate

Clark Dalton

No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama

CBS, 2:30 p.m.

For the past decade, LSU has been next year’s champions in the SEC West. Despite having rosters that are stacked with future NFL superstars, the Tigers have failed to knock off the Crimson Tide year after year. However, it may be the Tigers’ turn this year thanks to the electric play of senior quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow has thrown 30 touchdown passes, changing the face of an offense that was stuck in the Stone Age. Alabama is sharp once again, averaging 49 points per game. Yet there are lingering questions surrounding the health of junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa just underwent another emergency ankle surgery and is likely to play this week, but it’s not clear if he is at 100%. The matchup will be a clash of strong teams with high stakes creating a playoff-like atmosphere.

No. 5 Penn State at No. 13 Minnesota

ABC, 11:00 a.m.

The last time the Golden Gophers won a National Championship, man had not yet set foot on the moon. Head coach P.J. Fleck has brought Minnesota back into national contention. The Gophers’ offense is averaging 430 yards per game, and the defense has stifled the passing attack by allowing only 166 yards per game. Even though Minnesota has played well, not everyone is buying into the hype. Penn State hopes to confirm the criticisms and prove they belong in the top four. The Nittany Lions are undefeated, averaging 39 points per game and presenting one of the best offenses the Gophers have faced all season. Sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford is also beginning to mature with a passer rating of 165. Two teams who both have Big Ten championship hopes on the line sounds like a classic waiting to happen.

No. 22 Wake Forest at Virginia Tech

ACCN, 2:30 p.m.

The Demon Deacons have some unique ingredients that have brewed a winning recipe. Junior quarterback Jamie Newman has completed 67% of his passes, igniting the aerial threat. Sophomore wide receiver Sage Surratt is among the best receivers in college football. Surratt is currently fourth in receiving yards with 948 yards and nine touchdowns. Virginia Tech is starting to regain a sense of identity after the Frank Beamer era. The Hokies are 5–3 and are in third place in the ACC Coastal Division. After a dogfight against Notre Dame where they only lost by one point, a win against a hot team could be a statement.

Wyoming at No. 21 Boise State

ESPN, 9:15 p.m.

Now you may be surprised to see this matchup on the list, but this game actually has a big impact on the national picture. Boise State is 4–0 in conference play and 7–1 overall, meaning a New Year’s Six bowl is still somewhat in the realm of possibility. Given the Broncos’ magic in the past, this creates an interesting scenario. Wyoming is in the same division as the Broncos, and is currently sitting at 6–2. If the Cowboys can pull off the upset, it could cause chaos.

No. 11 Baylor at TCU

FS1, 11:00 a.m.

Baylor is still undefeated, but the wins have not come easily. Last week the Bears beat West Virginia by just three at home. Junior quarterback Charlie Brewer has played well, but so has TCU freshman quarterback Max Duggan. The Horned Frogs have liked playing in Fort Worth, where they are 3–1. Thanks to both teams’ improved passing attacks and an energetic home crowd, it’s time for another Big 12 slugfest.